Finlay on first France foray and future fixtures

Finlay on first France foray and future fixtures

In a frustrating evening for Scotland U20, one bright spark was a first start for scrum-half Finlay Burgess. Having made three previous appearances off the bench, Burgess played 77 minutes in Agen, and hopes to keep his starting berth for the remainder of the campaign.

Hailing from Torphins in West Aberdeenshire, Finlay has played rugby for near enough his whole life.

“I started when I was four years old at my home club, Deeside RFC, and played there up to U18s. After that, I moved down to Glasgow and had a season with Glasgow Hawks and then in 2022 I was with Stirling Wolves in the FOSROC Super6. During that, I got the chance to represent Scotland Blues at U16 and then got invited to the U17 camp but unfortunately Covid hit.”

Finlay was then chosen to represent Scotland U20 for the first time in the Under-20 Summer Series in Italy. He featured twice off the bench in a difficult campaign for the young side.

“The results didn’t go our way, it was a tough few games out there. But out with the results it was a great experience to be out there with the team, to have that time away, build some experience and have that international test. I think it helped me coming in this year, having that little bit of experience of what the game intensity will be like.”

The move to Stirling Wolves and the FOSROC Super6 game was one in only his second season in adult rugby. But he settled in well and earned significant time on the pitch for the Bridgehaugh outfit.

“I started off in the Sprint Series and got pretty good game time ahead of Italy, and then in the Championship we missed the first half to recover from that Summer Series. Then in the second half of the season I think I only missed one game which was due to injury.

“It’s good to play with and against people you know from the Scotland setup, but it’s also good to play with the older guys with much more experience than you who have played for different teams and in different countries. So I think it’s great experience for younger boys coming through the programme.

“I really enjoyed it. I really enjoy the atmosphere at Stirling Wolves, they made me feel welcome. Having had only season in adult prior to going into the Super6, I was a bit wary but I settled in fine and I think that’s down to the boys at Stirling who made me feel welcome when I came to train with them.”

More opportunities have arrived for Burgess in the current campaign. After being named on the bench for the first two fixtures, he played 77 minutes against France in a disappointing defeat in Agen.

“I got 20 minutes off the bench in the England game, that was good to get a bit of a runout, and then to hear that I was starting away in France, it was pretty special. To experience being in France and then to get a good bit of game time was great.

“To come close against England, win against Wales and then to lose like that France, it showed we’ve got to be on it the whole time. I think it’s a bit of an eye opener to some of the boys. I had some poor results out in Italy but it’s a pretty new squad so to have those halts in momentum, we’re pretty disappointed.”

Looking ahead, Finlay will look for more game time in the remaining two games. An unfortunate injury to Ben Afshar in the Wales encounter has provided the Stirling Wolves scrum-half with the potential for two home starts against Ireland and Italy.

“It’ll be massive if I get the chance to start again. It would be good to play in front of a home crowd, I’ve never actually played in a Scotland jersey in front of a home crowd so to have my family and friends all at Scotstoun would be pretty special.

“The mood is high, we’ve had the down from the France game but we’ve been pretty positive and we’ve seen that a few of their tries were just little errors made by us. So if we can not give them away, we’ve shown against England and Wales we can score tries. We’ve just got to stay positive when we’re looking ahead to Ireland.”

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